I was recently walking around downtown Philadelphia and saw advertisements for a “Toned and Shredded Yoga Class”.
I couldn’t help but picture a group of super-yoked Brahmans flexing their obliques in their crude mirrors. I thought yoga was all about inner peace, meditation, mindfulness, and stretching. How could one get shredded doing yoga?
Then, I remembered my 15-year-old self hitting the gym with my first training partner. Every month we’d have a routine where we’d go to a nearby convenience store, flip through the Men’s Health magazines, and choose the routine that we’d do for the following month. I was always drawn in by two words: Toned and Shredded.
What was it about “toned” and “shredded”?
Some linguists may say that these words are onomatopoeic – they sound like what they describe. When said aloud, they can have very powerful emotional reactions. I want to be SHREDDED. Ladies, I’m sure you’ve said at one point or another that you’d like to tone up.
It’s time for a little transparency: I despise – with every fiber of my being – naming our specialty classes. I try so hard to be true to who we are; to educate the general populace about how their bodies work, how they build muscle, and how to lose body fat. But, the truth is, the science behind it all isn’t terribly sexy.
Case in point – our most recent Specialty Course was titled “Functional Bodybuilding and Hypertrophy.” Guess how many sign-ups we had? Two. After seeing the dismal results, we spruced up the branding with an Apple-inspired cool factor of “reps+sets” – all lower case because, well, 2017. The course completely filled up in a couple days. Was the programming or structure any different? Nope.
Am I a Hypocrite?
Maybe. But, I’ll always try to follow up the sexy “toned” and “shredded” branding with some education. Our hope has always been that, when someone comes through our doors, they’ll be armed against fads, gimmicks, and trends. In a recent episode of Tonos Radio, Sabrena and I explored sensational headlines and branding. We ask the question: “What factors contribute most to a toned and shredded physique?” We use a value system of 10 to determine the importance of various factors contributing to they way you lose fat and add muscle. Three factors all add up to 10 to create your pre-disposition to shreddedness or tone.
Genetics – Value: 6
Like it or not, your genetics play the greatest role in how you add muscle, where you lose fat, and how “toned” you ultimately end up. Your body doesn’t know that you’re participating in “Shredded Yoga” or regular yoga. Your muscle fibers don’t know that you’re doing a workout that promotes “long, lean muscles” instead of “short, bulky muscles.” Can you have a high bodyfat percentage and a 6-pack? Absolutely. Is the inverse true? You got it. This is not a free pass to throw in the towel. There are not many athletes I’ve met – even the highest caliber of professional athletes – who have bumped up against their genetic limitations. Chances are, you still have many facets of your life to optimize before you run into your genetics.
Diet, Stress, and Sleep – Value: 3.5
Second to your genetics, the way you eat, the way you manage stress, and the quality of your sleep will have a much greater bearing on how “toned” or “shredded” you become with a given workout routine. You could do a full year of Toning, Lean, Shredding, Lengthening classes but if you eat and drink like garbage, your body composition will never follow suit. If you have significant body fat to lose, you could do 20 cartwheels a day for your workout and improve your diet, stress, and sleep and see incredible “toning” results. Conversely, you could do 20 hours of Shredded Yoga everyday without changing the way you eat, stress, and sleep and see very minimal – if any – results.
Your Workout – Value: 0.5
Your workout is incredibly important for things like bone density, cardiovascular health, longevity, respiratory function, increased metabolism, managing stress, increasing productivity, and a whole host of other benefits. Your workout is NOT, however, terribly effective at drastically changing your body composition. Absent diet, stress, and sleep, your workout has almost no bearing on how “shredded” or “toned” you become. There are 4 things you MUST do in your workouts: 1. Aerobic training (20+ minutes of breathing hard), 2. Resistance training (moving heaving things), 3. Mobility & Recovery, and 4. High Intensity Interval Training. If you can check each of these four boxes a couple times a week, your workout routine is just fine. If you can’t check each of those 4, you’re likely missing out on results.
Don’t be fooled by cool names. At the end of the day, your genetics play a much larger role in your “toned” factor than anything else. Your diet, stress, and sleep will get you “shredded” quicker than any dumbbell routine you cook up. So, where does this leave you with choosing a workout? Find something that has all four necessary components, is coached by an expert, has you constantly pursuing new skills and goals, and something that you’ll be doing for the next 30 years. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying my hardest to come up with sexy names for our classes.